Politics & Government

If you want to vote for Wichita mayor, school board, you can do that now; no waiting

Keith Fulton decided to vote on Monday “to beat the rush.”

Mission accomplished.

Fulton was one of 25 voters who showed up in the first six hours of advance voting in the race for Wichita mayor and an at-large seat on the Wichita school board.

Voting opened at 8 a.m. Monday at the election office in the Historic Courthouse downtown. When Fulton got there just before 1 p.m., he was the only voter in a room filled with voting machines.

“I was expecting a few people to be here, especially at the lunch hour,” he said.

Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman said the first day of voting this year is actually busier than the first voting day in the last mayoral election. Four years ago, only 10 people total cast ballots on the first day.

However, Lehman cautioned against reading too much into that because the 2015 advance voting started midweek on a Wednesday, instead of the start of the week on Monday.

Only one of the mayoral candidates rushed to the polls. Brock Booker “was like the third one in the door this morning,” Lehman said.

She said she’s not predicting a robust turnout for the Aug. 6 primary because she hasn’t seen a noticeable increase in either registrations or vote-by-mail requests. Those are usually the first indicators of a busy election to come.

The 2015 primary for mayor drew 19,605 voters, a 9.8 percent turnout. Lehman said she’s expecting similar number this time around.

Charles Conley, 70, voted in the 2015 election and this one. He votes in every election.

“When you get sent to the Army when you’re young, you take that privilege seriously,” he said. Also, “We’ve had a lot of things through the years that didn’t allow us blacks to vote and now that we do have the opportunity, we should use it.”

The polls will be open at the election office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays through Aug. 2 and from 8 a.m. to noon Aug. 5.

Satellite voting sites will be open from noon to 7 p.m. Aug. 1 and 2; and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 3.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle

Senior Journalist Dion Lefler has been providing award-winning coverage of local government, politics and business in Wichita for 20 years. Dion hails from Los Angeles, where he worked for the LA Daily News, the Pasadena Star-News and other papers. He’s a father of twins, director of lay servant ministries in the United Methodist Church and plays second base for the Old Cowtown vintage baseball team.